Thursday, June 14, 2007

Don't be a Dumb Duck

Today's What the Duck demonstrates the mentality of everyone out there hungry for work "I'll do it for half!" The pathetic fact is that there are people out there with that mentality. Note that the semi-smart duck leaves the strip after the "long hours" information, the second duck leaves after "grueling hours", yet, after being told you're shooting for credit, as a "volunteer", then does our stupidity kick into overdrive, where it's announced that, at whatever the rate the client is asking, one numbskull will "do it for half", even when he's the only one still there.

Far too many people don't survey the landscape so they know what they're up against before making their offers. They don't know all the details of the work, nor who their competition is - or if they're the only one willing (or able) to do the work.

Competing on price, "for the glory", is an absolute recipe for disaster. The sad fact is, I don't actually have to convince you of that, facts and reality will do that for me.

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.


Anonymous said...

It hardly seems fair to call people pathetic if they're trying to make names for themselves in the business.

In many ways, the business itself has changed. I'd guess that because of cheap digital cameras and dwindling profits in print media, most people don't have the opportunities to start out in bona fide professional relationships, and therefore are forced to start more gradually and cheaply.

The fact that they can please their clients as easily as someone with exorbitant rates is a recipe for disaster, but mainly for the old stalwart who can't adjust to these changes in the business.

You're probably right that more people should get to know their product, their competitors, and their costs, but that's a fact of life in all business. It also means that the business leaders (presumably like yourself) need to do the same and adjust their practices accordingly. Moan and rant about it all you want, but it's not going to get any easier- like trying to convince people to pay for something that they can get for free.

Unfortunately, the people who once held a monopoly on professional photography are now suffering in the same way as the music industry. Now that the processes are much easier, the materials are more readily available, and users are more tech-savvy, paying a high price for a pro is more of a luxury than reality or fact.

Anonymous said...

My dear friend Owl.....may I call you that?

Let me guess; the clue is in your cool internet handle ...owl; that's why you are as wise as you think and feel that you are.

Judging by your response I can see that you must have a real true feeling for this business. You must have really worked hard in this marketplace, and paid enormous dues to earn this reputation that allows you to impart such wisdom upon us.

Well let me freely give you a gift of my wisdom.

You will fail . And when you fail, I will enjoy every minute of hardship that you suffer through. As a matter of fact, let me know when you will be selling your gear on E-Bay and I will gladly bid on it. It will help my bottom line getting your used gear for .25 on the dollar.

Oh wise old Owl, don't get angry; open your eyes and learn something. And that something is once you move out of your parents basement and your cost of living increases, let's see if you can continue to charge the same rate or offer the same freebies that you did when you started in this business. Once Daddy and Mommy cut you off and you have to start paying for your own beer you'll raise your rates, I know that for sure.

But the most important advice that I can give you is this.............get to know where your local Starbucks is located. Because you won't be earning much of a living doing photography.

Anonymous said...


It takes much more than a good dslr to make it in this business and Mr. Anonymous you are creating very bad karma for yourself.

It takes many skills to run this type of business - it takes passion, the ability to promote, to retain clients through skill, persverence, charm, personality, and going way past everyone else in delivering what the client needs - it requires the ability to produce, to connect, to get the right people for the right assignment. It takes the ability to know how to handle personalitieies, fragile ego's, to see way past a given situation to create an incredible image that tells the client's story, it takes a unique vision of the world, it take a strong personal belief in your "mission."

Owning and operating a business requires that you belief in yourself, your client's needs and that you believe in what is right. People skills are critical in this type of industry. If you lack them, it will affect your ability to sell yourself. To be yourself. I know brilliant photographers who lack people skills, their career's suffer for it.

Anonymous suggests buying on ebay, etc. I disagree. Running down your competitors/colleaques is a waste of time. Do the best you can do. Always, be freinds with people you respect. Do not waste your time or precicious energy on negativity. It affects your creativity.

I, like you, am going to "use" the Anonymous handle.

I have over thirty years experience as a shooter and my business (god willing) is still running strong. Not every company is concerned with cutting the budget to the bone, not every agency wants to low-ball the cleint to get the job. There is a wide-world of clients that like to do things right and that is where you should focus your efforts.

Once you start making headway in this world, those clients search you out.

Anonymous said...

So true!

There's an ad on Craigslist here in New England that reads something like:

Looking for PRO PHOTOGRAPHER to shoot my wedding for free.

Which is, of course, much like almost all the photo ads on Craigslist.

Anonymous said...

Wow, anonymous #1 really needs to get a grip.

Anonymous said...

ROFL! There is one here on CL Pittsburgh that wants to cover your wedding for "Your Budget". So what ever you want to pay them. LOL, are you kidding? If the photo biz is that hard maybe you should consider a job at Ritz insted.

Some couples don't care about their wedding photos. They get the cheapest smuck out there with a flickr account with a few wedding snaps. Snapshots is what this photographer will deliver. Your going to get what you pay for.

You are not a professional photographer just because you own a Digital Rebel.

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